Few things in the history of cinema are more ridiculous than Steven Seagal characters. Even among action heroes, a category that lends itself to ridiculousness, the characters played by Seagal reign supreme. Just look at the names: Mason Storm, Forrest Taft, Detective Gino Felino. Once the patented Steven Seagal fight scenes are factored in - with all their hard shoves, aikido takedowns, and bone snaps - there is no doubt that he is the king of ridiculousness.
But Steven Seagal movies are never a one-man show. They are chock-full of ridiculous characters, most of whom only exist to get beaten up by Mr. Seagal. Some of these characters are even more over-the-top than the man himself. These characters come from different backgrounds, different countries, and employ a wide variety of fighting styles. The one thing they all have in common is ending up on the business end of a beating.
Here are the most ridiculous characters ever to take a beating from Steven Seagal.
The primary antagonist in Out for Justice, Richie Madano (William Forsythe) is one of the most unhinged characters ever to appear opposite Steven Seagal. He spends most of the film’s runtime smoking crack and assaulting innocent bystanders. Forsythe sweats and slurs his way through every scene in which he appears. Every scene, that is, until the climactic beating that he takes in the film’s penultimate sequence. It’s almost as if Richie knows he’s ultimately fated to be destroyed and has decided in his last hours to indulge in as much decadence as possible.
One phenomenon of action movies that never gets old is the “bad guys in the wrong place at the wrong time” trope. The bad guys enter a place, doing the bad things that bad guys do, only to find that the hero just happens to have been in the same place. Often, this is the entire plot of the movie (like Under Siege or Die Hard).In Hard to Kill, however, it’s just one scene. “Shotgun Punk” (Tomas Trujillo) and his cohorts attempt to rob a liquor store where Steven Seagal’s Mason Storm has stopped in to buy a bottle of champagne. The Shotgun Punk (what a credit to have on one’s resume!) sneers and cackles even after murdering the liquor store clerk. This over-the-top caricature of a criminal makes the perfect foil to Seagal’s overly calm destroyer of worlds.
Hard to Kill’s Vernon Trent (William Sadler) could very well be the most corrupt politician in history. Not only is he involved with the mafia, not only does he plot assassinations, but he has a gang of goons that just hangs out playing pool in his mansion and waits to do his bidding. The amount of shady lobbyist money he must need to maintain this force is staggering. What’s even more staggering is the revenge inflicted on him by the hard-to-kill protagonist.
Early in Out for Justice, a cute little dog is thrown from a moving station wagon. This dog is taken in by the loose cannon cop with a heart of gold (Steven Seagal, naturally). Chekhov’s dog abuser returns in the film’s final scene. A telltale bumper sticker points Seagal in the direction of a character credited as “Station Wagon Tough Guy” (Sonny Zito). Needless to say, this supposed tough guy pays dearly for his earlier crime against man’s best friend. While his appearance, his dialogue, and his actions all qualify as “ridiculous,” the character is so completely superfluous to the film that the most ridiculous thing about him is that he exists at all.